Tuesday, March 20, 2007

PS- times are tough for media in Palestine

A brand new independent English language paper covering the West Bank and Gaza launched in Israel this Sunday, on what seemed to be a rather more upbeat day than usual, the day after the Hamas-Fatah Unity government emerged in Palestine. (Since then, however, Israel has refused to deal with the new government and the Hamas militant wing broke a 4-month truce when its sniper wounded an Israeli civilian near Gaza. A potential suicide bomber said to be from Hamas was detained at the Egyptian frontier the same day.) For each step forward, there are a couple steps backward or sideways. No wonder progress is so slow.

You might say the new Palestine Times is neo-realist by default, because it tacitly recognized Israel when it inked a deal with a major Israeli distribution network.
The Editor-in-chief Othman Haj Mohammed says the goal of his Palestine Times is to show the "real image of Palestinians...stories of failure and success, sad moments and happy moments." Cartoons, commentary, and features are as lively as the news section and help counter the brutality of day to day life. Yet online readers won't be able to click past the site's home page without buying a subscription. (Note that an online British "Palestine Times" has no relation to this new publication.) Old-fashioned print seems to be Otham's anachronistic message of choice, but the newspaper is a welcome breath of fresh air. Blogging is dicey where power shortages are rife, after all. Both the Palestinian and Israeli governments have increasingly curbed press freedom inside the Palestinian Territories. Encouragingly, a South African media group recently launched station RAM-FM, in English. This station broadcasts throughout the Palestinian Territories and Israel, with studios in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
More communication and understanding is urgently needed inside a territory steeped in mixed messages, disinformation and twisted interpretations. Izzy notes with dismay that the BBC Gaza Correspondent, Alan Johnston, who covered the breaking news in the Gaza strip with integrity and even-handedness for 3 years, still is held captive by gunman more than a week after his abduction. It is not clear if the abductors' motive is ransom or notoriety or some hidden message to other militia. Such kidnappings cannot help public relations much, and only reaffirm all the muttered misgiving by neocons and Zionists. It's worth noting that Mahmoud Abbas has been talking to British officials about Johnston's plight. Reassurances about the correspondent's wellbeing have not revealed any clues to where he is being held. British colleagues have been holding vigil for him in Gaza. Any one of them, caught in the wrong place at the right time, could have been a kidnap victim. Gaza is increasingly mercenary and unpredictable, reporters say.


Anonymous said...

How much did this ad cost?

Izzy Bee said...

This was no advert, anon... just noting a new source of info that appears to represent English-speaking moderate Palestinians-- not laden with NGO agency-speak or screeds from guerrillas &/or fundos. Wish it was free online, though
Sometimes Izzy & co blog with enthusiasm; being cynical 24/7 is a drag.

frontiersman said...

So weird that this suicide bomber was caught after kindly offering to donate his kidney cuz he no longer needed it...off soon to blow up Jews!
The second to be busted in El Arish in a week. Are they on their way through Gaza or what? It would be great to get independent confirmation of this

hebrew hackette said...

The BBC's Alan Johnston, 44, is still a hostage after more than a week and journalists in GAza went on a one-day strike yesterday to protest against his militant kidnappers. The Tanzanian-born journalist is well respected in the region and the hunt is on for his location.

Izzy Bee said...

Post a message to Gaza hostage Alan Johnston through the BBC. Just click here